What you need to know about (the tricky world of) travel health insurance
If you’re over 60, you will probably have to fill out a medical questionnaire when applying for travel health insurance. If you are unsure about how to answer a question, consult your doctor and ask to see your medical records. This will help you to understand the conditions you have so you can answer the questions accurately.
There are certain questions on the questionnaire that ask how many medications you are taking, which can cause some confusion. Your pharmacist can provide you with a list of all the medications currently in your name. For example, if you have a standing prescription at the pharmacist for a medication, the insurance company could understand that to mean that you are taking it even though you’re not currently filing that prescription.
If there is a question about high blood pressure on the questionnaire, and you are taking medication for it as a preventative measure, the insurance company could take the position that you’ve been diagnosed with that condition and are being treated for it.
Don’t simply answer the questionnaire based on what you think is relevant. Even the smallest treatment or diagnosis, when not answered correctly, can make your insurance null and void. It’s better to over-report than under-report because you may have to pay a higher premium but then you can be assured that you have the coverage in the case of an emergency.
Make sure you understand the definitions of all the terms on the questionnaire. For example, according to some insurance companies, being tested for a condition means you’ve been treated for it.
Read your travel insurance policy carefully to understand all the terms and conditions. Pay particular attention to the ‘Limitations and Exclusions’ section to understand what’s covered and what’s not. For example, some policies will not cover you if your medical emergency is related to excessive alcohol and/or extreme sports.
If you experience a medical emergency while on your trip, contact your insurance provider right away. If you fail to get prior approval for any tests or procedures, your claim may not be fully covered.
If there is anything in your policy you don't understand, call your insurer and ask for clarification.
If your claim is denied, appeal to the insurance company. If that doesn’t work, consider contacting the Ombud Service for Life and Health Insurance (OLHI). According to its website, OLHI is “…an independent service to help consumers with complaints that they are not able to resolve by dealing directly with their insurance company.”
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